Monday, December 22, 2008
Men and the City
By Leeat Granek (Guest voice)
“You have no idea how desirable you are. I want to make love to you.”
These would be lovely, seductive words if murmured from the mouth of a spouse or a lover.
Instead, they were hurled at me by a tall French man in the street. I was schlepping my groceries through the snow when he, and his statements stopped me dead in my tracks. I was not amused.
Is this the way men talk to women these days? What is happening with the men in the city? The French guy was not the only disappointment this week.
Thursday night, I dragged myself out in the cold to attend the third annual Annex Shul Chanukah party in Kensington Market. I begrudgingly paid my $15 entrance fee for the privilege of being surrounded by my choice demographic when it comes to potential mates. Single, young, Jewish, (and hopefully) employed men. What better place for Jews to meet each other than at events like these? Problem is, no one would talk to me. Or rather, I should say, no one knew how to talk to me or to the group of women I was with.
The first set of men to approach my friend and I wouldn’t stop talking about themselves. They literally went on for twenty minutes before even asking our names. We tried desperately to get away, but we had somehow gotten stuck between the jelly doughnuts and the bar. I plotted our escape in my mind, concocting an elaborate break through the coat check and out in to freedom. Luckily, the guys tired themselves out with their chatter.
We made a run for it when they stopped to swig at their beers.
Waiting in line at the bar, we were approached by a new group of men. This time, they asked us our names and what we do for a living. They were attentive enough and seemingly engaged, although one of them kept darting his eyes around and couldn’t maintain eye contact. I’m not sure if he was looking for someone he knew, or if he just wanted to see if he could find someone better looking to talk to. Whatever the reason, it was weird and disconcerting.
Still, it was a major improvement until they asked us to buy them a drink when we got to the bar. “Bartenders always pay close attention to the pretty girls. Can you hook us up?” Needless to say, we were less than thrilled by this proposition.
I was about to give up when I thought maybe I should initiate conversation. I am after all, a feminist. I believe in equality between the sexes. Why should I wait for someone to approach me when I am perfectly capable of making small talk myself? I approached the first cute guy I saw.
I pitched him a compliment to start the conversation. “I love your fedora,” I said in my best, flirty voice. I waited for him to respond with something nice, or at least to make a witty comment, or extract some information. Instead, he grinned and said “Yes, I like it too. It’s great isn’t it?” A real charmer.
I know that it’s hard to be a man these days. It’s confusing. Women can be ambivalent. We send mixed messages. We want our men to be assertive and in control, but also sensitive and attuned. We want our men to initiate, but also leave enough room for us to make some decisions. It's hard to know what to do with all of these contradictions.
Underneath all of these paradoxes, though, the truth is that all of us want the same things. Women want to be respected, honoured and listened to, and I suspect men want to be acknowledged, encouraged, and seen. For men, that means maintaining eye contact, really listening to what your date/wife/girlfriend is saying, and honouring her by treating her with kindness and respect.
It’s easy. Treat her the way you want your sister or mom to be treated and you are on your way to being a real mensch.
What do men want? I open the question to you the readers. Post your response on Heebonics.ca